Science and Tech


Soda Taxes Might Sway People To Cut Back On Sugary Drinks

After soda and other beverages were taxed more, Philadelphians were less likely to drink sugary drinks every day, according to a new study.
Posted at 5:25 PM, Apr 12, 2018

In the past decade, some cities have started taxing sugary drinks to raise money for local governments and to promote healthier lifestyles. A new study shows these taxes can help change people's diets — at least in the short term.

Researchers in Philadelphia surveyed residents about their sugary-drink consumption before and after a 1-cent-per-ounce tax went into effect in 2017. They found that people, on a daily basis, were 40 percent less likely to drink soda and 60 percent less likely to consume energy drinks.

The tax also prompted Philadelphians to drink cheaper, healthier beverages. Fifty-eight percent said they were more likely to drink bottled water every day after the price increase.

But the study only focused on consumption in the first two months after the tax was implemented, so it might be too early to tell if the changes will last. One lawmaker already introduced a bill to kill the tax.

Soda taxes aren't always popular with store owners or taxpayers. They're usually intended to fill government budget gaps quickly, but they don't always work. In Cook County, which includes Chicago, officials passed a soda tax to raise $1.8 billion. But it was repealed after just two months when people realized it wouldn't generate as much revenue as they thought.